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The Great Battle of Grubani

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The Great Battle of Grubani

By Tumaros

 

 

 

Part 1

 

Krantar Br'guaan sighed quietly. The tall, black-haired barbarian continued to pace around his hut anxiously, every now and then his eyes falling upon the large pile of parchment with scribbles upon them...his pile of battle plans. Many times, as the captain of the Omlinor guard, Krantar had attempted to inflitrate the base of Ywarstav, the barbarian society's most bitter enemies, and each plan was beginning to seem worse than the first.

However, there was one plan that Krantar had devised that still had potential. He had played his wild card...sending Jer-nak, Omlinor's (and possibly the world's) most skilled spy. Jer-nak could sneak right past the dreaded cyclops of the region if he had to. Krantar trusted in his little friend, and he had to believe that this time he would get the information he needed to launch an attack on Ywarstav.

No sooner had Krantar thought of this when he was startled by a knock at his door. He gave a loud grunt, recognizing the subtle pattern that was woven into the knock, and smiled as a thin, ferret-like wisp of a man made his way into the hut. He drew back his blacker-than-night cloak and bowed low.

"Krantar, captain of the Omlinor guard, sir..." he began, his voice no more than a hoarse, dry whisper. "My scan of Ywarstav was a success." He held his bow for a moment longer, playing on the barbarian's short temper, and then rose slowly (a wise decision indeed, for the barbarian was beginning to finger his sword).

"Ah, Jer-nak, you have returned swiftly," rumbled the large captain. "No troubles, I hope."

"None whatsoever, sir." Jer-nak smiled, barely able to contain his newly acquired information.

Krantar noted the small man's struggle, and nodded slowly. "Have you managed to discover something of use?"

Jer-nak nodded slowly, and he reached into the folds of his shadowy cloak, protruding a packet of parchment and laying it on the desk next to him. "Battle plans and such..." he paused for a moment, his expression shifting from anticipation to a more reserved and somber look. "I also have discovered that the enemy plans a massive strike on our walls in less than fifteen minutes."

The barbarian roared, "What? Fifteen minutes?"

Jer-nak nodded, taking a very steady step backward.

Krantar shook his head, his wild mane of hair brushing across his face. "Now I am not surprised that you returned with haste, my little friend." He steadied himself on his desk, his expression still frozen with shock, and finally managed to sit on his chair.

Jer-nak shrugged and took a seat as well. "Along the return I managed to devise a quick plan. It may not be enough, but it will be effective long enough for it to take place."

Krantar looked at the spy in confusion. "And what exactly do you mean by that?"

Jer-nak crossed his arms. "Well, of course, we prepare the usual defense, with the archers set up along the wall and some men hidden outside to the left and right to flank them..."

Krantar nodded and rubbed his chin. "I hate to interrupt, but I must ask...have you seen their army? If so, what does it consist of?"

Jer-nak sighed angrily at being broken off, but answered the menacing barbarian nonetheless. He reached for the stack of parchment he had brought with him and laid out the largest piece...a small drawing of what appeared to be an army formation. He indicated each section, describing them as he went along.

Finally, he had reached the furthest section, the largest dots. "...And in the rear they have an unimaginable troll force..."

Krantar's eyes widened, and he said nothing. He simply shook his hand, bidding the spy to continue.

"Well," began Jer-nak, "After we get the defense set up, somehow-i'm sure it's possible-we get our shamans and mages to teleport themselves to a certain point in Ywarstav...which, judging by the size of this attack, would have extremely weak defense...most of their fighters would be here. From there, the shamans could summon our wild ogres, which would be kept under control by the mages. This would distract anyone who would be at the base still, and anyone who returns, making it easy for someone..." he paused and looked directly at Krantar, "to make their way to the hideout of the Ywarstav leader, and kill him."

Krantar nodded, taking all this in, and then suddenly realised Jer-nak's proposition. "And are you saying that someone would be us?"

Jer-nak smiled and nodded.

Krantar smiled as well and opened his mouth as if to say something, but rose from his stool abruptly.

Jer-nak rose as well, for he had heard it as well. He followed Krantar outside, to the brightly lit desert that was Grubani peninsula, and the both of them made their way to the great wall that surrounded their base.

"Look...to the west...on the horizon..." muttered Jer-nak.

Krantar nodded. He stared to the west at a long stream of torches and dark forms, marching ever closer. He listened to the eerie wail of their horns, the ominous beat of their drums...the horrible Ywarstav call to war.

 

 

 

"Set up the defense manuvers immediately, Tragdek." said Krantar. "Get your archers along the wall, best archers over the entrance gate." Tragdek, the primary archer of Omlinor, nodded in salute and immediately began preparing the Omlinor army for war.

Krantar groaned and headed back to his hut, Jer-nak following close behind. He headed in and sat back down, and he and Jer-nak started to figure out how they would make their way out of the base once the battle had begun.

"Sir...what about the rowboat, out back?" questioned Jer-nak after a few minutes of contemplation.

Krantar looked up. "Rowboat...oh of course! We could use that...why hadn't we thought of that before. You'd best go prepare it Jer-nak, I will go alert the council."

"Excellent idea, sir." Jer-nak disappeared, and Krantar made his way to the council's hut. He didn't even bother knocking on the door, and quickly strode into the building.

"Here, here, Krantar, what's the meaning of this?" questioned Irantes, the village elder. "You just can't go b..."

"No time for idle chat, Irantes," growled Krantar. He never cared much for the elder, but he had to remember his standings. "In mere minutes, the entire Ywarstav force, as well as some troll allies, will be upon our base. Open war is upon us."

The council members gasped. As Krantar had come to expect, however, Irantes questioned the captain's credibility. "And how do you know this, Krantar?"

Krantar opened the door to the hut and held it. The council members listened in awe, for over the sounds of the battle, they could hear the Ywarstav war call.

"Would you like me to take you to the top of the wall and show you, or is this proof enough?" asked Krantar with a smirk on his face.

The council members looked at each other and murmured quietly, panic on each of their faces...except for Irantes. Irantes, in all stubborness, still held firm. "Perhaps they could be off to try and tame that blasted cyclops."

Krantar's knuckled began to turn white as the grasp on his sword tightened.

"Irantes, you and I have had our little disagreements before, but this could mean the future of Omlinor. We can not risk to lose this battle, or we will lose the war before it has even begun."

For the first time anyone could remember, Irantes kept silent, giving Krantar the last word. The tall barbarian looked around at the elders, his grip on his sword loosening, and began to make his way around the room.

"We must act quickly. I already have Tragdek preparing his archers, and Jer-nak, who brought the information to me in the first place, is preparing the hidden rowboat. According to him, we will be able to hold off their forces long enough for us to slip away and sneak into the Ywarstav base. From there, we will act as a reference point to our shamans and mages, who will summon wild ogres into their base. They will take care of the forces in the base, and the mages will guide them onward toward our base, to assist in the battle here. During all this, Jer-nak and I will slip out and make our way to the hideout on the swamp where they are keeping their leader. We will dispose of him, and victory will be ours!"

As if on cue, Jer-nak entered the hut (almost hitting Krantar with the door) and had only to point behind him, to the wall.

The sounds...the marching, the horns, the drums...all sounds had stopped except for the whistle of the desert wind.

Then, like a hole being ripped throughout the earth, the Ywarstav army roared as one, and the battle began.

 

 

 

"Unity, archers...we must work together to defeat them..." shouted Tragdek. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned slightly. He recognized Krantar out of the corner of his eye (with Jer-nak right behind, but blending in so much with the night the archer didn't even notice him) and nodded. "Captain."

Krantar nodded back. "Master archer." He folded his arms and watched Tragdek and his men working as if they were all controlled by one mind. He watched in awe as every arrow found its target.

The Ywarstav army was not as surprised, or probably didn't even care at all. The troops marched blindly forward. Krantar could not figure out why they were headed towards the wall without ladders...or even catapaults!

Then he knew. A path was slowly cleared below the gate, which Krantar, Tragdek, and Jer-nak were standing directly over, and off in the night, all three of them stared as a hoard of trolls made their way through with surprising speed, carrying with them a horrifying, spiked battering ram.

Krantar suddenly jumped, realizing he had to fulfill his role as captain of the guard. "Tragdek, turn your men towards the trolls, pepper them with arrows."

Tragdek nodded and shouted out, "Men! Ignore the troops, to the gate! Attack the trolls!" Again, as one, the entire archer force turned and began shooting towards the trolls.

Krantar began to make his way down, to where those troops more skilled in close combat waited.

"They have a huge battering ram, controlled by trolls..." cried Krantar. "Defend the gate! Don't let them through!" He turned to Jer-nak. "You...you think you can keep these men in order?"

Jer-nak nodded. "You can count on me, sir."

"As I have come to trust, my little friend." Krantar smiled, and made his way back to the council's hut. He described the current situation to the councillors, and even Irantes was in awe.

"We must be careful, in case they manage to breach the wall, which is what I fear may happen. Those trolls are as strong as adamantite...nothing can distract them," muttered Krantar.

Irantes managed to respond, but his voice wavered as he spoke. "Oh, come off it Krantar. Nothing could ever breach our wall."

Imagine the surprise on his face when there was a great crack outside, and the gate fell in a pile of sawdust.

 

 

 

Cries of "The wall has been breached!" resounded throughout the entire base, followed by the sounds of swords sliding out of their sheaths, and the rumble of the Ywarstav troops into the base.

"Council members...get as many townsfolk as you can, as well as the shamans and mages, and make for the stronghold to the southeast! Jer-nak and I must get out of here, before it's too late," shouted Krantar, and he left before anyone had time to give him a response. He found himself being thrown straight into a fierce and nightmarish battle, every now and then a lumbering form of a troll making its way into the base. No matter how hard he searched through the mayhem, he couldn't seem to find Jer-nak. Sometimes his ability to blend in with the environment was such an annoyance to the barbarian!

Finally he found himself wondering about Tragdek, and he made his way up the wall towards where he originally was. Tragdek was nowhere to be found. Krantar attempted to listen for the master archer's voice, but he couldn't make out even a troll's scream in the chaos below. Dodging arrows, he asked numerous archers if they had seen Tragdek, and one finally responded that the last time they had seen him was on the wall, a defiant expression on his face, right before the gate collapsed. Immedately Krantar feared the worst, and he stood still for a moment. He looked down at where the gate had collapsed...nothing more than a pile of rubble and splinters. He only could hope Tragdek wasn't among the many bodies of archers who were on the gate when the wall fell.

After a few minutes, Krantar made his way to the rowboat...where Jer-nak and Tragdek were waiting for him. Jer-nak seemed perfectly fine, a little bruised, but Tragdek...

Krantar sighed. "Tragdek...I thought you might have..."

Tragdek nodded and grimaced, "I managed to jump off the gate right before their last blow. I landed hard on this arm..." he indicated his left arm which was smeared with blood, "but it's not too bad."

Krantar shrugged. "Well, you'd best make your way to the healers..."

Tragdek held up his right hand to cut him off. "I told you, it would be all right." He smiled. "Besides, with you and Jer-nak gone, who'll be left to control these troops?"

Krantar opened his mouth again, and then shut it. There wasn't any way he could change Tragdek's mind, he knew that, so he let the archer go. "Good luck, my friend." He and Jer-nak hopped into the rowboat and began to row away. "And if I return and find this place in ruins," called Krantar, "You'll be to blame!"

Krantar and Jer-nak rowed away, the sounds of Tragdek's laughter fading away in the distance, mixing into the gruesome sounds of the battle behind them.

 

 

 

Part 2

 

The sounds of the battle did not die out that night in the ears of Krantar and Jer-nak. Even when they were out of range, they felt as if they were still directly in the middle of the action. Neither one said a word during the entire trip, exept when they chose a location to row ashore. They both pulled the boat up on the beach and hit it inside a small grassy area. They brushed themselves off, and Krantar followed Jer-nak's lead.

Finally, after a few long minues of walking, the dark stone walls of the Ywarstav base were in sight. The two friends found a large tree to hide behind, and both of them watched the base curiously.

"Jer-nak," rumbled the barbarian, "Doesn't it strike you as odd that their gate is wide open, with absolutely no defense at all?"

"Odd indeed," whispered Jer-nak. "But I've spent some time among these people, and they can be extremely complacent at times. I always figured that one time, they would slip up with their over-confidence, and they picked the perfect time to do it." He winked in the darkness, and even the barbarian couldn't miss it.

Krantar chuckled and watched the base for a minute more. Then suddenly he jumped, as he noticed a large lumbering figure make its way through the gate...and then another.

"Trolls," muttered Jer-nak in distaste. He spat on the ground. "How did they get so many trolls?"

"It does not matter...however we need to find a way into their base," murmured Krantar, turning back to Jer-nak. "Did you not say that there was another entrance somewhere?"

Jer-nak nodded. "There is another entrance, but we wouldn't be able to get there without the trolls spotting us." He picked up a rock and turned it over in his hand. "Oh how I would like to club one of them with this..."

Krantar stood still a moment, and then his mind clicked. "Jer-nak...you may just have an idea there."

"Huh?" asked the spy. "Clubbing them with a rock?"

"Close," said Krantar. "If we took a rock, and threw it in the opposite direction of the other entrance, that might distract the trolls, diverting their attention, and then we run for it."

"You believe they would actually fall for that?" whispered Jer-nak incredulously.

"Can you think of anything better? Besides, these are trolls we're talking about...and we have to get in as fast as the possible. I can feel the mages' concentration upon us weakening."

"Makes sense, sir. May I have the honor?" asked Jer-nak, a smile glistening on his face.

"If you wish, then run as soon as they turn!" whispered Krantar, his eyes never straying from the guards.

Jer-nak reached back, twisted the rock around until it felt comfortable, and then threw it with all his might to the left of the trolls. It bounced off the wall with a noise oddly magnified in the night, and both trolls turned stupidly to examine where the noise came from.

Krantar and Jer-nak sprinted as if the devil was behind them, and made their way for the other entrance, which, thankfully, wasn't guarded at all, and was wide open as well.

"That makes sense," muttered Krantar as they slipped inside the base and found a place to hide. "Seeing as the other entrance is along the warpath, it would be the more heavily covered one. Interesting."

Jer-nak jumped suddenly. "The shamans and mages are ready, sir."

Krantar nodded slowly. "Let it be done."

Jer-nak squinted and jerked around for a moment, and then two mages appeared next to him, followed by three shamans.

"Excellent...good work. Now...the shamans will summon the ogres...six or so will do, don't want to wear yourselves out...and then the mages will control them. Remember, after you have dealt with this base, head back to Omlinor to assist our troops. Time is of the essence..." Krantar sighed. "Let the massacre begin."

The shamans began their chant, and Krantar and Jer-nak made their way out of the same gate they came in, pausing long enough to hear the screams of troops, followed by the sounds of an ogre enjoying another meal.

 

 

 

Tragdek watched the massacre from the highest tower of the Omlinor wall, his face an expression of sheer awe and terror. Never before had the archer seen such a fierce and violent battle. He could hardly stand to focus on one area of battle, for everywhere he looked there was mayhem. He turned as he heard someone coming up the stairs, drawing his sword as a precaution.

Good thing he did, for it was a Ywarstav warrior making his way up the tower.

Tragdek held his sword out in front of him, gingerly equipping his shield with his left arm. Close combat wasn't his specialty, but he was still dangeroulsy proficient at it. Finally the warrior was at the top of the tower, and he and Tragdek locked stares.

"So, some scum from Ywarstav has decided to challenge Tragdek?" the master archer questioned.

The warrior, a menacing rock of a man, growled like some savage beast and held his axe out forward, towards Tragdek.

Tragdek followed suit with his sword, and smiled. "Prepare to meet your god, foul warrior."

There was a clang of metal on metal, and the two men had their weapons locked. They circled around the room, eyes never straying from their opponent's, and finally the barbarian wrenched his axe backward, catching Tragdek's sword and tossing him backward. Tragdek slammed into the wall and landed on a table. He straightened himself, wincing at the increased pain in his left arm, but kept his sword ready.

The warrior charged forward, towards Tragdek, and the agile archer merely jumped upward and over the warrior, flipping around and clipping him on the back of the head with his sword.

The warrior screamed in rage and whirled around, his axe becoming part of him as he dealt Tragdek a series of powerful blows. Tragdek managed to block each one with his sword and sheild together, however each blow on his sheild sent his mind whirling. The battle became more of a struggle to remain concious than to defeat this superhuman warrior.

Tragdek circled around the room, still parrying with amazing agility, until he was right beside the stairs. He glanced down for a moment as the warrior prepared for yet another charge, and then an idea snapped into Tragdek's head. He continued to stare downwards, pretending that he couldn't see the warrior as he charged straight for him. Finally, a second before the warrior would have crushed Tragdek, the archer dove down the stairway onto the wall below, the warrior right behind him.

 

 

 

Krantar and Jer-nak rushed through the night northward, Jer-nak leading them, for the Styks swamp. Jer-nak had said that there was a secret hut in the middle of the swamp, which happened to be the hideout for the Ywarstav leader.

"So..." Krantar puffed. "What do you propose we do once we get to the hut, master spy?"

Jer-nak slowed for a moment. "I'm not exactly sure. I hadn't developed a plan really."

Krantar slowed as well, but for a different reason. He eventually stopped completely and stared forward, beyond Jer-nak who was looking back.

"What is it?" asked Jer-nak, still facing Krantar.

"The cyclops, Jer-nak! R..." began Krantar.

Krantar was cut short as Jer-nak was dealt a vicious blow by the cyclops.

"Jer-nak!" screamed Krantar. He looked up at the cyclops. "The cyclops has left its lair!"

Jer-nak grunted and tried to rise. He looked up at the blurred image of the cyclops looming over him and groaned. He fell limp, preparing for the blackness of death.

The massive, one-eyed creature licked its lips. "Food," it shouted, and it began to bend over the limp form of Jer-nak.

"No!" cried Krantar. The barbarian reached down and pulled out his steel shield. He held it horizontally in his hand, like a plate, and pulled his arm back. He squinted, hoping his aim was true, and released it. The whirling shield cut through the air and lodged itself squarely in the huge creature's right thigh.

The cyclops roared, and it's tiny head spun around. The single eye fell on Krantar, who was now drawing a cruelly edged blade, and the cyclops began to make its way towards him.

"I will enjoy this," growled the barbarian.

The cyclops roared again and stomped it's way toward Krantar, obviously trying to crush the barbarian under his foot. Numerous times the barbarian had close calls, but each time he managed to dodge the wild beast's foot. Suddenly, Krantar had an idea. He ran far from the rampaging cyclops and, grabbing his sword by the hilt, slammed it, pommel side down, into the ground, so only the deadly blade stuck vertical to the ground. Then the barbarian began to jump up and down, shouting insults to lure the cyclops over. Again, the stupid creature used the same stomping manuver...exactly what Krantar wanted. At the last moment, just as the massive foot was directly above him, he dodged out of the way, and turned to see the cyclops give a deafening scream as the cruel blade made its way through the bottom of the foot and out through the top, covered in sticky black blood.

Krantar rushed over to Jer-nak, picked up the limp form, and ran away from the screaming monster until he collapsed from exhaustion.

 

 

 

Krantar wasn't the only one running for his life. Tragdek was dodging fallen comrades and enemies alike as he made his way along the wall, the inhuman warrior not too far behind him. Eventually, Tragdek came to the spot where the gate once stood. He looked behind him to the warrior, who was struggling as it was. Apparently he had strength to rival even the cyclops, but he was lacking in agility and endurance. Tragdek smiled as he turned back to the open area ahead of him, and the wall a few meters beyond that.

He would have to jump the gap.

Tragdek realized that, if he failed in his plan, he would lose his life. But then, he realized, if he failed to defeat the warrior, then he'd come to the same end. He had no choice but to gain more ground from the warrior, and this was the only path he could take. He slid his sword into the sheath and replaced his shield on his back, walked back a few steps, trembled, and then, letting loose a great war cry, sprinted for the gap. He waited until he was just at the edge, and leaped like he had never leaped before. A few troops from Ywarstav that were fighting below him stopped and watched the amazing spectacle, and soon foundthemselves caught in the void of death. That was Omlinor's mantra...never let up your guard.

Tragdek stuck his feet out towards the oncoming wall, and found himself muttering a prayer to the gods. He closed his eyes, figuring that he was about to slam into the side of the wall. He opened his eyes again when he felt himself rolling forward...on the other side of the wall, successfully completing his leap. He steadied himself and looked back at the warrior, who was growling and pounding his axe on the stone wall like some wild creature.

"Come and get me, fool," shouted Tragdek, beckoning teasingly.

The warrior spun around and started walking backward, and for a moment Tragdek thought that he had given up. Then the warrior spun around once more, facing Tragdek, threw off his armor and his axe, and made a wild sprint for the gap. Tragdek watched in amazement as the warrior leaped...flew through the air...time seemed to stand still for Tragdek...and then...

The warrior nearly made it, his hands grasping forward for Tragdek, but his feet never reached the wall, and he ended up sliding backward. He did manage to catch a hold on the wall, but he continued to slip ever downward.

Tragdek strode slowly to the side of the blasted wall, where the warrior was attempting to scramble up the side. He placed his foot firmly on one of the warrior's hands, and for a split second, their gazes met in utter hatred. Tragdek let out a grunt as he shoved the warrior's hand off of the wall, and watched as the warrior plummeted to his death.

Tragdek groaned, as the events of the night started to catch up to him, and he slumped over along the wall, the sounds of the battle fading out around him.

 

 

 

Krantar found himself being shaken awake. He shifted from his side to his back and looked up. Above him he could see the blurry image of Jer-nak, and for a moment he thought he must have been dreaming. Then he realized that this was no dream, and he abruptly sat up.

"Jer-nak...you're awake..." muttered the barbarian. "How..."

Jer-nak shook his head. "I was only knocked unconsious. What I want to know is what happened to that blasted cyclops."

Krantar described the incident with the sword to Jer-nak, and how they had run all the way to the edge of the swamp, where they were laying at the moment.

"I see," said Jer-nak. "Well, I think we should make for the hut. The night is already on the wane..." he looked up at the white orb of the moon in the sky. "Come."

Krantar rose, feeling strange and unprotected without his sword or his sheild, both jammed in the cyclops. He followed Jer-nak through the swamp, until they finally came to a dreary hut.

"That's where they're keeping their leader, Lukren," whispered Jer-nak.

Krantar tried to look in the window, but it was too dim for his eyes. "Is he alone?"

Jer-nak scurried around and peeked in, his night-vision kicking in. "Seems he has someone else in there...a bodyguard of some sort. No one I've ever seen before."

"Well, what are they doing?" asked the barbarian.

Jer-nak held up a finger and looked inside. After a few seconds he whispered, "Lukren appears to be sleeping, and I'm guessing the bodyguard's keeping watch."

Krantar nodded. "What do you think we should do? Do you have a plan?"

"Ah, sir," said Jer-nak, "I always have a plan." He winked and continued to watch inside the hut.

Krantar chuckled. "I hope it's a good one."

Jer-nak nodded subconciously. "All right...it seems that the bodyguard's growing tired. He's probably been keeping watch all night. As a matter of fact..."

Abruptly the air was filled with the sound of a snore from inside the hut.

Jer-nak turned to Krantar and attempted to stifle a laugh.

Krantar smiled. "Ah, I see what you mean, my friend."

"Here's the plan...I'll sneak in through the window and slit the throat of the bodyguard before he even has a chance to wake up. Then I'll open the door for you, since you could never get in through the window with your size."

The barbarian sighed. Being tall always had its advantages and disadvantages. "Then I can deal with Lukren, right?"

"Exactly."

"Then move swiftly, and good luck, my little friend."

The barbarian watched as Jer-nak made his way into the hut, only taking steps when the bodyguard snored so as to drown them out, and closed his eyes, a grim smile on his face, as the snores abruptly ceased.

Krantar opened his eyes again, and was shocked to see Jer-nak looking over his shoulder in fear, Lukren standing next to him, holding a dagger to his chin.

 

 

 

Tragdek suddenly realized that the sounds of the battle were abruptly changing. He looked behind him, over the wall, and saw five...six ogres making their way toward the base.

"It worked..." he murmured. "Krantar's plan worked!"

Tragdek jumped up and shouted, as loud as he could over the noise of the battle, "Here comes the cavalry!"

Anyone within earshot of him (which was a small range indeed, the noises of the battle would drown out an earthquake) stopped fighting and looked all around. Shouts of "ogres!" sprung up on both side's troops, though the Omlinor troops had a more pleased emphasis on the words. Slowly the word spread, and a great cheer went up as soon as the ogres managed to get into the action.

Tragdek watch in amazement at the effectiveness of the ogres. He looked out into the night, towards a fire on the horizon...strangely enough, that fire was where the base of Ywarstav stood...rather, used to stand...

 

 

 

The barbarian made his way towards the door as quietly as he could, and each time his feet made a sound he stopped for a few seconds. He stood in front of the door, quietly holding his right shoulder forward, taking a quiet step back...and not-so-quietly charging forward and breaking the door down.

Lukren looked up for a moment, his hand with the dagger not moving in the least bit, and then smiled.

"So," he said, in a voice that was unusually soothing, "Both the best spy in all of Grubani and the captain of the Omlinor guard as my prisoners. How marvelous." He smirked and moved the dagger upward, drawing a drop of blood from Jer-nak's chin.

Fire danced in Krantar's eyes. "Think again, Lukren. We have not come here to be your prisoners. We have come here to destroy you."

Lukren let out a laugh, even more eerie than his voice, and moved the dagger even higher. Jer-nak grimaced in pain, and he gritted his teeth, as blood began to run freely from his lower jaw.

"Perhaps the captain of the guard would have the same information the spy would have, and then I would only need one of you," he said, more to Krantar than to himself. "Perhaps if I killed the spy, then you would see how Lukren, leader of Ywarstav, means what he says."

The fire in Krantar's eyes became a full inferno, but he kept a cool visage, and with his jaw firmly set, stated, "Too long have you plagued these lands, Lukren, and now, your reign shall end, and the age of Omlinor shall begin." The barbarian let out a long, loud roar, and charged for Lukren like a wild cat after its prey.

Lukren anticipated the motion, and in one swift motion he pulled his dagger away from Jer-nak, extracted a longsword from his sheath, and held both out in front of him in a defensive cross.

What Lukren forgot was that Krantar wasn't the only enemy in the room. The moment he lowered the dagger from Jer-nak, the spy reached for his own, spun around clockwise, away from Lukren, and drove the dagger straight into the back of the former leader of Ywarstav.

Lukren's face contorted, his hands curved inwards, and he doubled over, impaling himself upon his own sword as he fell.

Jer-nak removed his dagger and wiped it on Lukren's back. "That's one person's blood that I would never dirty my dagger with."

Krantar smiled weakly, and continued to stare at the dead form of Lukren. "That's it?" he asked. "Is that how it ends?"

Jer-nak shrugged. "It would appear so. The war ended faster than it had begun."

Krantar nodded, and looked to Jer-nak. "But now, with our primary enemy gone, what will there be left for us to do?"

Jer-nak smiled. "Don't tell me you weren't planning on getting your sword back, Krantar."

For the first time that night, the barbarian laughed. "That's right," he shouted, "I've got a score to settle with a certain cyclops!"

Jer-nak clapped him on the back. "You mean we've got a score to settle."

Krantar imitated Jer-nak's actions. "Exactly. We've got a score to settle."

Together, the two friends made their way out of the swamp, and headed off towards the hut of the cyclops, singing a merry song as the morning sun rose over the now-cleansed Grubani Peninsula.

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